Five months ago, the Puerto Rico legislature tried to pull a fast one, and “privatize” the beaches of Puerto Rico on the last day of session. The public outrage was so fierce, that the legislature backed down.
But now, Gov. Garcia Padilla is doing the exact same thing…with the public schools of Puerto Rico. By “executive order” he ordered the sale of more than 350 school buildings and campuses. He did this on Nov. 21 but then immediately left for Spain…and finally disclosed it four days later, on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving…when few people were paying attention.
WITH THE STROKE OF A PEN
An executive order is a powerful weapon: especially when there is no officially scheduled legislative session, to question or oppose it.
With the stroke of a pen, a governor can issue an immediate mandate which is immune to legislative veto…and minimal, if any, public review.
That is what Gov. Garcia Padilla just did with over 350 public schools, and the teacher’s jobs inside those schools.
They are now all on the chopping block.
Here’s how Garcia Padilla did it…
CLOSE THE SCHOOLS
During his four-year term (2008-2012) Gov. Luis Fortuño closed 200 schools throughout Puerto Rico. They were closed for “budgetary reasons.”
Over 350 schools were shut down, over the past 8 years.
The school closures were pressured by the hedge funds that hold Puerto Rico’s debt.
SELL THE SCHOOLS
But Garcia Padilla took it one step further.
He jumped from closing 350 schools, to selling 350 schools and their surrounding campuses.
In doing so he beat the Financial Control Board, governor-elect Ricky Roselló, and the PNP political party to the punch.
He deprived them of the financial benefits from brokering this deal…by cutting the deal himself, as a lame-duck governor, who will not have to face the voters again.
And now those financial benefits will be his.
IF IT LOOKS, WALKS, AND QUACKS LIKE A DUCK…
In the world of backroom politics, Wall Street insider trading, and lobbyists with cash-filled briefcases, it is difficult to prove that Gov. Garcia Padilla – or his family and associates – received a bribe for this “executive order” to sell 350 schools.
But an old saying says: “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…it’s a DUCK.”
In the last days of his administration, the character of Garcia Padilla is beginning to show.
A MESSAGE TO THE TEACHER’S UNION
The Federación de Maestros and Asociación de Maestros Local Sindical should contest this executive order immediately.
They should pursue injunctive relief, restraining orders, Article 78 proceedings…every legal measure at their disposal, to prevent this accelerated sale of public properties.
They should mob the media and swarm the streets, with immediate and fierce opposition to this underhanded sale of their school buildings, and their jobs.
Make no mistake about this…once those 350 school buildings are sold, the jobs inside those buildings will never return.
All the double talk about “mergers” and “consolidations” is just that…double talk. Those jobs will be gone.
ALL THE UNIONS MUST DRAW THE LINE
This holiday-season maneuver by an outgoing governor is a general betrayal of the entire island…but it is a specific attack on the union movement.
If these 350 schools are sold – quietly and with no opposition – then the entire public infrastructure of Puerto Rico will be up for grabs.
The electrical grid, water supply, highways, bridges, hospitals, prisons, public housing – it will be open season on all of them, and on every union and municipal worker on the island.
It is clear that the PPD and PNP are not two parties. They are only one party…the PLP…the Party of Lining their Pockets.
Don’t let them do it !
Do NOT allow these 350 schools to be sold…not without a fight.
For a history of the War Against All Puerto Ricans, read the book…
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